September 3 2020 Press Conference COVID-19 Update


Good day members of the media and the listening public. Thank you for your attendance.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Bermudians remain unemployed with hopes to return to the workforce. As we continue to imagine the future of Bermuda, the Ministry of Labour is pleased to inform the public of Phase One plans to swiftly reintegrate affected persons into the working community.
During this unprecedented time, the Ministry of Labour has committed to providing support to affected Bermudians; firstly through the Unemployment Benefit and further through Financial Assistance and the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit. However, we recognise that these provisions alone are not enough, nor are they a permanent solution to the unemployment challenges we face.
To this end, the Ministry of Labour is committed to putting Bermudians first and has prepared a comprehensive strategy to do so. The overarching objectives of this strategy are threefold: to reduce current unemployment, to prevent future unemployment, and to facilitate the ease of finding employment in Bermuda.
In alignment with these three objectives, the Ministry of Labour will employ the following strategies:
1. Establish Labour Policy that enables additional jobs to be available to Bermudians. These policies may include but are not limited to:

  1. the establishment of formal MOUs with employers;
  2. the institution of a moratorium on work permits for specific occupations categories;
  3. the implementation of tax incentives for employers that employ Bermudians; and
  4. assuring that unemployed and laid-off Bermudians are returned to work in a more equitable manner.
  1. Facilitate Training and Development by providing reskilling and upskilling programmes. These programmes will equip Bermudians with job specific skills and prepare them for future opportunities. This strategy will be executed by the Department of Workforce Development who will:
    1. engage with employers to identify current demand and future opportunity;
    2. identify service providers to ensure the delivery of quality training and development; and
    3. assess unemployed persons to ascertain the training necessary to reintroduce the high volume of unemployed Bermudians back into the workforce.
  2. Build a Solid Partnership with the Bermuda College and encourage Bermudians to make use of specialised career-oriented programmes. Persons may enrol in a variety of trainings offered by the Division of Professional & Career Education, also known as PACE. These trainings cover a wide range of industries, from health and beauty to hospitality and entertainment.

The Department of Workforce Development will utilize the Bermuda College to provide on-demand training that is flexible, allowing it to respond to labour market requirements.

  1. Utilise Professional Agencies to match talented workers to job opportunities in Bermuda. Not all employees require training, some just need access to opportunity. Professional employment agencies have an excellent track-record of connecting qualified Bermudians to hiring employers. We look forward to partnering with these agencies to ensure that Bermudians are able to return to work as quickly as possible.
  2. Industry Sector Stakeholder Engagement will be the primary means to invite the business sector to operate as partners in identified occupations. Stakeholder focus group meetings have already begun with the Restaurant, Horticulture Landscape Gardening and Cleaning industries. Additionally, an industry- driven framework has been developed to collaborate with other industry sectors, with the aim to penetrate further into other occupational categories. The Government’s intent is to work with industry experts to develop “mutual beneficial” training and re- employment opportunities for Bermudians.

The Ministry’s plan for reemployment is inclusive of a Youth Employment Strategy that has been tailored to the identified needs of unemployed persons between the ages of 18 and 26. In addition to the aforementioned strategies, the Youth Employment Strategy features additional resources for youth that may be entering the workforce for the first time. These resources will primarily be offered through the Department of Workforce Development and include career advice, job market guidance, and assistance in identifying available financial resources to offset related costs.
These strategies are only the beginning of Government’s commitment to reducing COVID-19 induced unemployment. As part of Phase One of the Reemployment Strategy targeted industry sectors include, but are not limited to:

  • –  Cleaning (Industrial, Residential, and Commercial);
  • –  Horticulture and Landscape Gardening;
  • –  Restaurants; and
  • –  Construction

To date, there are approximately 1,000 positions in these sectors that are held by permit holders which we hope to return to Bermudians that are currently unemployed.
Speaking to Financial Assistance and the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit, it is important to note that all persons seeking or receiving the Benefit, or Assistance, are encouraged to continually utilise the career counselling services at the Department of Workforce Development. Trained counsellors will:

  • –  meet with individuals one-on-one;
  • –  review the applicant’s eligibility for various services;
  • –  provide the applicant with labour market information;
  • –  develop a personalised reemployment plan; and
  • –  provide additional services such as resume review and job application submission assistance.

Please be reminded that these services are not only available to persons seeking or receiving Financial Assistance or the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit. The Ministry strongly encourages all persons seeking work to visit the Department of Workforce Development and utilize their services.
The Ministry of Labour is committed to putting Bermudians first and looks forward to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the timely return of affected Bermudians to the workforce.